Friday, September 5, 2014

“Retirement Is Not in the Bible” – Or Is It?

This is not a theological blog, so I may be venturing above my pay grade here…but there’s a niche trend in evangelical circles that is expressed in a variety of ways. I’m not sure it’s biblical or Christ-centered. Some leaders write or speak (even pontificate):
  •  “There’s nothing in the Bible about retirement, so I don’t plan to retire."
  • “I’d rather burn out than rust out."
  • “My organization/board still needs me. There’s no obvious person to replace me.”

 Contrast these views with these scriptures:
  • “And the [instructions] which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust [as a deposit] to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2, Amplified Bible)
  • After Elijah “retired” to heaven, there was common agreement that “The spirit of Elijah lives in Elisha!” (2 Kings 2:15)

In my Bible, the relevant themes are:  coach, mentor, disciple, give away, prepare, empower, inspire the next generation, be God-honoring. There’s not much about: hold on, hold tight, protect your position [or your board seat], stay as long as you can, tell those younger leaders to learn patience.

I hope you’re talking about it. Some nonprofit CEOs (and pastors) hold on way too long and boards don’t have the guts to address the succession elephant in the room. It’s not an age issue, it’s a spiritual issue.
When will we allow the next generation
to be the leaders that God has called them to be?

Ditto many board members. Harry has been disengaged for three years—but no one’s having the difficult conversation with him.

The ECFA 3rd Annual Nonprofit Governance Survey (to be released this fall), with responses from almost 2,500 CEOs, board chairs and board members of ECFA-accredited organizations, addressed these issues with three questions:

Question: Does your board have a strategy for recruiting younger board members?
     Yes: 32.8%      No: 67.2%

Question: Do you have 1 or more board members age 35 or under?
     Yes: 36.5%      No: 63.5%

Question: Does your board have a written succession plan in the event of the CEO’s death, long-term illness or unexpected resignation?
     Yes: 34.5%      No: 65.5%

Benchmark your board’s practices against other ECFA-accredited organizations. What are you discerning from God about your CEO’s exit plan; and your aging board members?

Here are several resources:
   --New Voices at the Table: Welcoming the Next Generation of Board Leaders: A BoardSource Toolkit (PDF).

   --ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 1 - Recruiting Board Members: Leveraging the 4 Phases of Board Recruitment - Cultivation, Recruitment, Orientation and Engagement (view the introductory video)

QUESTIONS: Is “retirement” in the Bible? What is your board’s succession plan—and what is your specific plan for recruiting and inspiring the next generation of staff and board leaders?

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